This year’s Confederations Cup takes place in South Africa from 14th June until 28 June 2009. It is actually the eighth time that this tournament is being held in its various guises, but it is now firmly under the umbrella of FIFA, with the format, competitors and matches very much standardised.
The very first incarnation of the tournament took place back in 1992 when Saudi Arabia organised an invitational event named the King Fahd Cup which included the Saudi national team and some of the continental champions. They followed this up with the second tournament in 1995 after which FIFA took over the organisation of it and renamed it the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1997.
Up until 2005, the tournament was held every two years, but from then it was decided to hold it every four years, in the year before the World Cup finals. This year’s contest in South Africa is the first one under this guise. It was also decided that the tournament will always take place in the country that will host the upcoming World Cup finals. The reasoning for this was simple – to give the country involved (and FIFA) the chance to check out the stadiums (half the World Cup stadiums will be used), the infrastructure and generally the organisation of the competition as a whole. Basically it is a dress rehearsal for the World Cup finals.
It also gives the host nation some much needed competitive fixtures in the lead up to the World Cup, as these hosts do not have to qualify and therefore only play friendlies for the two years leading up to the World Cup, while everyone else is battling to qualify.
The teams that participate in the tournament are the winners of FIFA’s six international continental competitions, namely CAF, CONMEBOL, UEFA, AFC, OFC and CONCACAF, as well as the FIFA World Cup winners and the host nation, which brings the total participants to eight.
Brazil will be taking part for the sixth time in this year’s competition, which will be the record. They had shared this honour with Mexico on five but the Mexicans are not involved this time round. Brazil have also won it twice, and along with France share top spot in tournament wins. Brazil managed to win in 1997 and the last tournament in 2005, France won in 2001 and 2003, while the other winners were Argentina in 1992, Mexico in 1999 and Denmark in 1995. A total of 26 national teams have taken part in the tournament since its inception.
This year’s tournament in South Africa is sure to be as, and if not more, exciting than any other previous Confederations Cup event and the home fans will be hoping that the host team will give a great showing, if not to win the tournament, then to give them some hope that their impending World Cup venture will be one to remember for a very long time.